Morbid obesity

Morbidly obese people sat around a table

What is morbid obesity?

The body mass index (BMI) calculator is a tool that is used to measure whether your weight is in a healthy range in relation to your height. A person who is morbidly obese will have too much body fat for their height. The overconsumption of food and lack of moving the body leads to morbid obesity. The BMI classifications to measure weight in relation to health are as follows:

  • Below 18.5 - underweight
  • 18.5-24.9 - healthy 
  • 25.0-29.9 - overweight
  • 30.0 and 39.9 - obese
  • 40.0 and above - morbidly obese

In cases of morbid obesity, the patient is 100 pounds (≈7 stone) overweight and has a BMI of 40 or higher.

Why is being morbidly obesity dangerous?

A patient who is morbidly obese is significantly at risk of one or more obesity-related diseases, which are known as comorbidities and can lead to physical disability or even death in some cases. These health conditions may include:

Morbid obesity is a serious disease. As a chronic disease, its symptoms build up slowly over time.

Who is at risk for morbid obesity?

Anyone can become severely overweight if they eat more calories than their body can use up. In some cases, genetic factors can play a role in how the body stores energy, but more research is needed into the relationship between genes and weight.

Other factors that may contribute to weight gain include lack of sleep and stress. Women living with the condition polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) may also find it harder and slower to lose weight. 

How is morbid obesity treated?

There are several different options for treating morbid obesity, which include:


In cases of morbid obesity, it is recommended to work with a registered dietician who can help you set realistic goals and can create a tailored eating plan and monitor your progress regularly. It highly recommended to cut out eating processed junk foods and to eat high protein, moderate (good) fats and minimal carbohydrates, which should come from vegetables mainly. A ketogenic diet can be beneficial for weight loss. 


Moving the body every day is important for weight loss. You can start off with light exercise like walking or swimming. Eventually, it is possible to build up to moving more and more over time.

Intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting requires you to eat your food through a certain period (or window) of time each day. Popular eating patterns include 16:8 where you eat for 8 hours a day before closing your window for 16 hours until the following day.

There are different variations to follow, 18:6, 20:4 or even the method that was made popular by Dr Michael Mosely which is known as 5:2 diet. During two days of the week you eat a maximum of 500 calories, and on the remaining days eat normally.

When the body is fasting, during the period of time that you are not eating, it goes into a state of autophagy, which allows the cells of the body start to renew and clean themselves, which is beneficial in preventing serious medical conditions.  


If you have tried to lose weight through diet and exercise and have not been successful, then surgery is an option. You can discuss the following surgical procedures with a bariatric (weight loss) surgeon, who will determine which of the procedures would be the most beneficial in your case:

  • Gastric band surgery - where a rubber band is placed around the upper part of the stomach, which limits the amount of food that your stomach can hold. 
  • Gastric bypass surgery - the procedure changes how the food that you eat travels through the digestive tract by bypassing a portion of your stomach and your bowel. 
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